Letter to Editor: Spoiler alert

To the Editor:

Voters in Maine can be very proud of the fact that despite the actions of Republicans in the Maine House and Senate who disregarded several of our votes which became law in 2016, we now can use a fairer and more democratic way to vote for the people who work for us in government—Ranked Choice Voting(RCV).

Those of us who voted in the primary in June experienced RCV for the first time, and there was a very positive response about the experience. In the upcoming midterm elections however, there is an important fact that we all need to keep in mind.

While Maine will use RCV for US Congress and US Senate contests, RCV is not yet available in the general election for Governor, Maine House, and Maine Senate.

For those elections, and until we can persuade our representatives to amend the Constitution, we will use traditional voting methods.

For instance, you won’t get to rank your choices for Governor. Since we have 4 candidates—a Democrat, a Republican and 2 Independents running, there is a very strong possibility that the spoiler effect will again result in the winning governor being elected with less than a majority—just like in 2010 when Paul LePage won the race with only 37.6% of the vote!

That was because votes were spread over multiple candidates with no chance for a runoff so that one candidate would emerge as the majority winner. RCV would have prevented that.

So when you are voting on November 6th, remember what effect voting for an independent will have. The spoiler effect doesn’t happen in states where only 2 candidates (one from each major party) are on the ballot.

But since we have distinguished ourselves as the first state in the nation to adopt RCV, we must be very careful how we vote until RCV is the law in all elections. Don’t throw away your vote. The spoiler effect is a very real possibility this year.

Denise Schwartz


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